Last summer I grew dahlias, a first for me. I chose a dark, dark, almost-black red dahlia, hoping for a striking color from it. While the dye bath looked purple, the results were far from that color range.
|Dried dahlia blossoms|
|Purple dye bath|
|Not purple first dip|
Day 1, I dyed with alum-mordanted yarn. For post-dye modifiers, I left one unmodified, then used the usual alkaline, iron, and acid modifiers. One difference from previous attempts is I applied heat while modifying with acid. Also, I used citric acid crystals instead of vinegar, but the pH seemed to be about the same.
|From left, no modifier, alkaline modifier, iron modifier, acid modifier (with heat)|
The results were satisfying if unexpected. Since the dye bath still looked pretty intense, on day 2 I dyed some more, this time four unmordanted bits plus one mordanted with rhubarb leaves.
|Far left, rhubarb leaf mordant, no modifier. The rest, no mordant. Left four, no modifier, acid modifier (with heat), alkaline modifier, iron modifier|
But no purple! I threw a silk scarf into the exhausted dye bath, thinking maybe it was the yarn, and even it came out non-purple. While I am pleased with the range of shades, I am mystified that a purple dye bath does not produce purple dyed yarn.
Here are more compare-and-contrast photos, primarily for documentation purposes.
|From left, no mordant, alum mordant, rhubarb leaf mordant; no modifier|
|From left, no mordant, alum mordant; acid modifier (with heat)|
|From left, no mordant, alum mordant; alkaline modifier|
|From left, no mordant, alum mordant; iron modifier|
|Nine distinct shades of color (rhubarb leaf on far right)|
A couple of lessons learned: applying heat to the acid modifier makes a difference, and the dye from some plant materials reacts more with modifiers than the dye from other plant materials (which Dean does point out in her book).